The Family Way
Opening on 2,940 screens nationwide this past weekend, the new Los Angeles-set romantic comedy Home Again (2017), starring Reese Witherspoon as a divorced mother of two daughters and her romantic attraction to three young male aspiring moviemaker houseguests, is a true family affair. Its 30-year-old writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer played small roles in five movies (both 1990s Father of the Brides, I Love Trouble, The Parent Trap and What Women Want) bearing the writing and/or directing stamp of one or both of her talented parents, Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer. Mother Meyers, also of Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated and The Intern fame, is one of the film’s producers. Dad Shyer lent a hand as Second Unit Director. If there’s an artistically based gene for comically capturing the romantic and career-pursuit crossroads of engaging and idiosyncratic characters facing life milestones on screen, it’s been generationally passed along here. Indeed, it may have been nurtured from birth. Thirty-one years ago, as Meyers-Shyer was forming inside her mom’s womb for her birth in July 1987, her screenwriter parents were beginning to shoot another captivating comedy charmer: Baby Boom (1987), starring the irresistible Diane Keaton as a type-A business executive suddenly faced with raising a recently orphaned newborn daughter; it was also produced by mom Nancy and directed by dad Charles. Dealing in elements of fantasy about privileged upper-class lives in swank surroundings, topicality about career fixation and relationship exploration vs. parental responsibilities, and starting over when life throws you unexpected setbacks, it proved a winning combination whose warm, fairytale glow persists today even though years of political and economic upheaval in our society. Los Angeles Times reviewer Katie Walsh summed up Home Again as follows: “It's a story of a woman making her own life, out of the shadow of her father, her husband and her houseguests, and doing it on her own – drawing her own boundaries and lines in the sand, whether that means drunkenly confronting her nightmare of a client, or making it clear she won't stand for flaky behavior from her younger paramour. This world doesn't quite exist, but it's an exceedingly pleasant place to escape to for a couple hours. Thank goodness the Meyers mantle has been passed on to the next generation. Meyers-Shyer may have gotten it from her mama, but the point of view is all hers.” Much of that reflection can also apply to Baby Boom, which also boasts intriguing male co-stars alongside its fabulous female lead (Harold Ramis, James Spader and the late, great Sam Shepard) and attests to a particular skill-set that’s proudly all in the family, on Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray.